Human Minds and Animal Stories: How Narratives Make Us Care About Other Species, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Human Minds and Animal Stories

How Narratives Make Us Care About Other Species, 1st Edition

By Wojciech Małecki, Piotr Sorokowski, Bogusław Pawłowski, Marcin Cieński


190 pages

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pub: 2019-02-05
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The power of stories to raise our concern for animals has been postulated throughout history by countless scholars, activists, and writers, including such greats as Thomas Hardy and Leo Tolstoy. This is the first book to investigate that power and explain the psychological and cultural mechanisms behind it. It does so by presenting the results of an experimental project that involved thousands of participants, texts representing various genres and national literatures, and the cooperation of an internationally-acclaimed bestselling author. Combining psychological research with insights from animal studies, ecocriticism and other fields in the environmental humanities, the book not only provides evidence that animal stories can make us care for other species, but also shows that their effects are more complex and fascinating than we have ever thought. In this way, the book makes a groundbreaking contribution to the study of relations between literature and the nonhuman world as well as to the study of how literature changes our minds and society.

"As witnessed by novels like Black Beauty and Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a good story can move public opinion on contentious social issues. In Human Minds and Animal Stories a team of specialists in psychology, biology, and literature tells how they discovered the power of narratives to shift our views about the treatment of other species. Beautifully written and based on dozens of experiments with thousands of subjects, this book will appeal to animal advocates, researchers, and general readers looking for a compelling real-life detective story." - Hal Herzog, author of Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat : Why It’s So Hard To Think Straight About Animals

Table of Contents



Chapter 1 Texts, Statistics, and Deception: On Our Investigative Method

Chapter 2 A Monkey, a Book, and Facebook, or How to Catch a Story in the Act

Chapter 3 Does It Matter If It Is True? On Slaughterhouses, Fiction, and Non-Fiction

Chapter 4 Does It Matter How It Is Told? On Species, Stylistics, and Voices

Chapter 5 Does It Matter Who It Is About? On Chimpanzees, Lizards, and Other Main Characters

Chapter 6 How Does It Work? From Readerly Pleasure to Animal Cruelty

Chapter 7 How Long Will It Work? A Short Chapter on Attitudinal Impact Over Time

Conclusions, Speculations, and Prospects



About the Authors

Wojciech Malecki is assistant professor at the University of Wroclaw, Poland. He specializes in literary theory, ecocriticism, animal studies, American pragmatism, aesthetics, and the empirical study of literature. He is the author and editor of five books and of numerous articles published in journals such as The Oxford Literary Review, Poetics, Angelaki, and PLoS One.

Piotr Sorokowski is associate professor and head of the Department of Psychology at the University of Wroclaw, Poland. He has published more than seventy research articles related to evolutionary, cultural, and social psychology, including in Nature, Evolution and Human Behavior, and Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology. His work has been discussed by the media all over the world, including BBC, CNN, Time, and The New Yorker.

Boguslaw Pawlowski is head of the Department of Human Biology at the University of Wroclaw, Poland. He deals with human behavior and preferences in relationship to body morphology and physiology. He has published more than eighty papers in top journals in his field (e.g. in Nature, PNAS, Proc. Roy. Soc. B., Current Anthropology) and dozens of book chapters. He is the President of the Polish Society for Human and Evolution Studies (PTNCE).

Marcin Cienski is professor of literary history and comparative literature and the Dean of the Faculty of Philology at the University of Wroclaw. His research interests include eighteenth-century and contemporary literature. He has authored and edited more than 150 publications, including The Landscapes of the Enlightened; Polish Enlightenment Literature and the European Tradition; and Polish Humanism and Communities.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in World Literatures and the Environment

Routledge Studies in World Literatures and the Environment

Since the dawn of human artistic and cultural expression, the natural world and our complex and often vexed relationships with the other-than-human have been essential themes in such expression. This series seeks to offer an encompassing approach to literary explorations of environmental experiences and ideas, reaching from the earliest known literatures to the twenty-first century and accounting for vernacular approaches throughout the world. In recent decades, it has become clear that highly localized, non-Western forms of literary expression and scholarly analysis have much to contribute to ecocritical understanding—such studies, as well as examinations of European and North American literatures, are encouraged. Comparative treatments of literary works from different cultures, cultural expression in various media (including literature and connections with visual and performing arts, ecocinema, music, videogames, and material culture), and interdisciplinary scholarly methodologies would be ideal contributions to the series. What are the lessons regarding human-animal kinship that can be gleaned from indigenous songs in Africa, Amazonia, Oceania, the Americas, and other regions of the world? Which discourses of toxicity in the urban centers of contemporary East Asia and the post-industrial brownscapes of Europe and America might gain traction as we seek to balance human and ecological health and robust economies? What are some of the Third World expressions of postcolonial ecocriticism, posthumanism, material ecocriticism, gender-based ecocriticism, ecopoetics, and other avant-garde trends? How do basic concepts such as "wilderness" or "animal rights" or "pollution" find expression in diverse environmental voices and become imbricated with questions of caste, class, gender, politics, and ethnicity? The global circulation of culturally diverse texts provides resources for understanding and engaging with the environmental crisis. This series aims to provide a home for projects demonstrating both traditional and experimental approaches in environmental literary studies.

Series Editors:

Scott Slovic, University of Idaho, USA

Swarnalatha Rangarajan, Indian Institute of Technology Madras

Previous Editors:

Matthew Wynn Sivils, Iowa State University, USA

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